Travelers wishing to stay in an unlicensed bed and breakfast that was, a year ago, the scene of a grisly unsolved murder are now in for disappointment.
Archie Jefferson’s online ad for an $850-a-night vacation home at the South Broad Street house where his wife was bludgeoned to death last May was deactivated by the website airbnb.com on Friday.
Visitors to the webpage are now told that “this listing is no longer available.”
The site took down the ad the day after The New Orleans Advocate and WWL-TV ran stories about Jefferson’s plans to rent out the house.
Jefferson had called the five-bedroom house at 3427 S. Broad St. the “Garden Home in New Orleans” and wrote that it could accommodate eight people. He wanted $850 a night, for a minimum of two nights, with a $5,000 security deposit.
Jefferson — a convicted felon, disbarred attorney and a member of the once-mighty Jefferson political clan — remains a “person of interest” in his wife’s murder. The New Orleans Police Department has declined to provide updates on the status of the investigation.
Friends and family of his dead wife, Sandra Peters Jefferson, were aghast when they saw Jefferson was opening a bed and breakfast — a lifelong dream of his wife’s.
“This is unbelievable. How is this happening?” said Lisa Bell Burns, Sandra’s best friend. “I’m sad and I’m angry. It’s like he’s throwing it in our faces: ‘I’ve not only moved on, I’m moving up.’”
Jefferson also had no city permit to operate the rental, which is necessary for any bed-and-breakfast in New Orleans. Nor can he get one: He does not even own the house.
He signed a rent-to-own agreement last month with the bank that foreclosed on his wife’s estate after she died.
Jefferson had described the house as “the perfect setting for weddings.” He lives there, he wrote, and would cook meals for his guests.
“Hey, I’m Archie!” he wrote. “Utopia has been my home for 12 years. It is a quiet, peaceful and lovely setting.”
City Hall execs won’t see Karen windfalls
More than a few eyebrows went up around town last year when it emerged that some of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s top staffers made tens of thousands of dollars in emergency pay after Hurricane Isaac.
Although unclassified employees are generally salaried, civil service rules adopted after the BP oil leak in 2010 made all employees eligible for pay bumps in emergencies. In general, employees were paid time-and-a-half during emergencies, plus double time for all overtime hours.
In Isaac, that allowed Landrieu’s six deputy mayors to rack up nearly $100,000 in extra pay. Each of them has a base salary of at least $140,000.
That won’t happen this weekend as the city deals with Tropical Storm Karen. New administration guidelines say that “high paid professionals” who make six-figure salaries will no longer be able to collect emergency pay, according to a report Friday by the online news site the Lens.
A plan to enact legally binding changes to the rules, through the Civil Service Commission, has been on hold for months after a request for a delay from the Landrieu administration, the Lens noted.
Want another ‘Stat?’ You’re in luck
There is nothing the Landrieu administration loves more than statistics — especially those that show the mayor’s team is doing a good job.
That fondness for statistics has given rise to such neologisms as BlightStat, BottomLineStat and — our favorite — ReqtoCheckStat.
This week, “in keeping with his commitment to accountability, transparency and data-driven management,” Landrieu’s office announced a new one: CustomerServiceStat, designed to “review key performance results related to customer service.”
As with the other stats, there will be monthly meetings, in this case focusing on “citywide topics that are frequent sources of city interactions with the public, with an initial emphasis on NOLA311 calls, permitting and licensing, and land use.”
“From the start of our administration, we’ve made customer service a top priority. This new tool will allow us to evaluate the data related to our delivery of city services and use it to drive our decision-making and continued improvement for our citizens,” Landrieu said in a statement.
The public is invited to attend the meetings and voice concerns, provide suggestions or ask questions.
CustomerServiceStat was developed jointly by the mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Office of Performance and Accountability, the office created to implement a performance management system at City Hall.
To learn more, visit the website of the Office of Performance and Accountability at www.nola.gov/opa.
Ex-Aviation chairman to lead Dock Board
The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans, generally known as the Dock Board, announced recently that it has elected Dan Packer as its chairman.
Nothing unusual there — Packer is a prominent local businessman who was CEO of Entergy New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina and served as the first African-American chairman of the New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce. He has been on the Dock Board since January 2010, when he was appointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
What is interesting is that Packer also used to be chairman of the New Orleans Aviation Board, serving from 2002 until August 2010, when Nolan Rollins replaced him after Landrieu became mayor. In January 2011, Packer resigned from the board altogether amid questions about his use of an airport credit card.
In a letter to Landrieu, Packer said he did not “want my continued service to be a distraction or burden to your administration or the board’s day-to-day responsibilities.”
A review of credit-card use at Louis Armstrong International Airport had raised questions about the legitimacy of charges incurred by top administrators, including Packer, and a lack of oversight of how the money was spent. The report by a local accounting firm found “significant travel expenses by several employees” and “significant meal and entertainment expenses” by former Aviation Director Sean Hunter, who resigned in 2009 and later pleaded guilty in federal court in an unrelated case in which he and his wife were accused of collecting insurance proceeds on a car that was undamaged in Hurricane Katrina.
Packer denied any improper use of his airport credit card, saying he documented every charge he made on it. “There was a reason for every one of the expenses,” he said. From January 2008 through October 2010, Packer submitted charges of more than $76,000.
Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux this week issued a report saying that the Aviation Board operated without proper financial controls for years after Katrina, leaving the agency vulnerable to waste and fraud, and did not clean up its contracting practices until new Aviation Director Iftikhar Ahmad arrived in 2010 pledging reform.
Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange this week praised Packer’s experience in management and executive leadership positions.
“Mr. Packer brings a wealth of experience to his new position,” LaGrange said. “He is a strong voice for the entire region and the entire port community. We look forward to working closely with him as we break ground on several critical infrastructure projects and position the port for growth in the coming years.”
Compiled by Claire Galofaro and Bruce Eggler